Women’s testimony in sexual assault trial shows accused had a pattern of behaviour, Crown argues
WINNIPEG -- WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers.
The testimony from two women last week in the trial of Winnipeg firefighter and martial arts instructor Manuel Ruiz is too similar for the judge to ignore, the Crown argued as the trial resumed on Monday morning.
Ruiz has pleaded not guilty to several charges including sexual assault, forcible entry, confinement and uttering threats. The trial is also dealing with charges of luring a child under 18, obtaining sexual services for consideration from a person under 18, and procuring someone to provide sexual services.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and Ruiz is presumed innocent.
Crown attorney Michelle Bright told Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey the testimony given by a 46-year-old woman and a 35-year-old woman shows a pattern of behaviour on the part of the accused which the judge should view as similar fact evidence.
“The similar fact evidence establishes that the accused used a specific system or modus operandi in committing the assaults and created an opportunity for the assaults to be committed,” Bright argued. “The system that he set up, the Crown says, allowed him to do what he wanted, when he wanted with the complainants, and he didn’t particularly care about what they thought.”
Bright pointed out in court both women first met Ruiz through martial arts, and either attended classes with him or under his instruction. She also argued they were both under 18 when they first met Ruiz, and that they both had experiences with him in martial arts classes that were flirtatious, however, not criminal in nature.
“They demonstrate a pattern of the accused using interactions in class with these girls to begin engaging in physical contact with them, that the Crown says eventually leads to sexual abuse and sexual abuse of a much more serious nature,” Bright argued.
Bright told McKelvey both women told the court they had vulnerabilities and also testified they had non-consensual sex with the accused.
“Both women describe very similar patterns of the accused engaging in non-consensual sexual intercourse with them where he essentially did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, without asking, inquiring, or taking any steps whatsoever to determine whether they were communicating consent,” Bright argued.
Ruiz’s lawyer Matt Gould argued the testimony court heard from the 35-year-old is not reliable enough to do a proper comparison with the testimony given by the other witness.
He told court where there are similarities in their testimony, they’re not relevant to the case — such as both women knowing that Ruiz was a firefighter, drove different cars and owned several homes.
“The similar facts that we’re supposed to be evaluating are either so dissimilar that they’re of extraordinarily limited value for this analysis, or the facts that can be considered as similar aren’t relevant to the analysis,” Gould argued.
McKelvey denied the similar fact evidence application.
The Crown closed its case. Ruiz has been called by the defence and is taking the stand to testify.
The trial continues.